We discover more about this ancient spring festival, the origins of Eostre and what Easter really means. Although the Christian festival of Easter celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus and has links to the Jewish Passover, most people, including Christians, unknowingly celebrate its pagan influences, including the bunny, a symbol of fertility, and colored eggs, representing the sunlight of spring.
In the 8th century, Christian scholar Bede claimed in his book, De temporum ratione, (The Reckoning of Time) that Easter derived from the Saxon Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre). The ancient Saxons in Northern Europe worshiped the Goddess Oestre at the time of the Spring Equinox. The Goddess Easter represents the sunrise, spring-time and fertility, the renewal of life.
Pagan Anglo-Saxons made offerings of colored eggs to her at the Vernal Equinox. They placed them at graves as a charm of rebirth. (Egyptians and Greeks were also known to place eggs at gravesites).
All the fun things about Easter are thought to be pagan. Bunnies are a leftover from the pagan festival of Oestre. Exchange of eggs is an ancient custom, celebrated by many cultures. Hot cross buns are very ancient too. In the Old Testament we see the Israelites baking sweet buns for an idol, and religious leaders trying to put a stop to it. The early church clergy also tried to put a stop to sacred cakes being baked at Easter. In the end, in the face of defiant cake-baking pagan women, they gave up and blessed the cake instead. Today the pagans of Easter celebrate with an atmosphere of giving and happiness, a renewal of life.
No matter how you celebrate may you celebrate in good health, happiness and life.